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International Ticketing Report 2021: Demand

The International Ticketing Report is a one-off annual health check on the global ticketing business, with emphasis on the sector’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The past two years have been turbulent for the business, but with consumer demand for live events now at an all-time peak, the challenges of fulfilling the most packed event schedule in history will test ticketers to the hilt.

Staffing, vouchers schemes and refunds, demand, consumer behaviour, communication, new products & services, secondary ticketing, pandemic lessons and recovery are among the challengers addressed by industry-leading experts in this extended report.

The report, originally published in IQ105, is in lieu of the International Ticketing Yearbook – a standalone global guide to the live entertainment market that will return in 2022.

IQ will publish sections of the International Ticketing Report over the coming weeks but subscribers can read the entire feature in issue 105 of IQ Magazine now.

To read the previous instalment of the report on staffing click here.

Having been starved of live music for more than a year – and in some cases, more than two years – fans around the world are understandably craving the experience of gigs and festivals. This has manifested itself in some truly remarkable sold-out shows in the months ahead.

“Artists have been itching to get back on the road and we’re already seeing the biggest names – Ed Sheeran, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Coldplay, Shawn Mendes, Tool, BTS – selling like wildfire, with plenty more on the way,” says Ticketmaster’s Mark Yovich.

“We’re expecting colossal things for 2022 – not only do artists and fans want to make up for lost time, but the cyclical nature of our business ensures its longevity. The pipeline will always be full – sporting seasons, theatre runs, and touring cycles will remain a constant fixture.”

Eventim’s Ruoff is a tad more circumspect. “Fortunately, demand for tickets has been rising steadily since spring, but as expected has not yet reached pre-pandemic levels,” he says. “In Germany, and Europe as a whole, we have seen great pre-sales in recent weeks for concerts by top artists.”

In France, Weezevent CEO, Pierre-Henri Deballon, also has encouraging news. “In the third quarter of 2021 we are above our 2019 figures, despite the fact that fewer events went on sale, due to capacity increases this year.”

“For 2022, we are expecting to see a triple effect: strong public demand, a plethora of events, increases in capacity and duration”

He continues, “Ticket prices are also changing. For 2022, we are expecting to see a triple effect: strong public demand, a plethora of events, plus increases in capacity and duration.

“All of this put together means 2022 should be a very strong year with a big rebound, especially for outdoor events, of which only the largest have taken place in France, in reduced formats, if at all. We expect shallower growth in the indoor sector, because setting up a tour is more complex than a festival.”

In Asia, Total Ticketing sales director Martin Haigh says, “Demand remains strong and tickets are selling very well, when events are able to happen. Customers are keen to get out and have experiences again where possible and as a result of the extremely low incidence of Covid in Hong Kong, customers are generally not concerned about the health risks of attending events.”

However, Haigh adds a weighty caveat. “The strong restrictions imposed, especially on larger events, means that volumes are still low overall – about 20-30% of previous volumes – but this represents a supply issue, not a lack of demand.”

Skiddle’s head of marketing Jamie Scahill says demand has been unprecedented. “We’ve seen a boom in consumer confidence since lockdown was lifted in the UK, and we’re confident that this trend will continue into 2022 as young people are eager to experience nightlife for the first time,” he says.

“In the first six months of this financial year, our overall sales have been down 25% on the same period in 2019”

“As a result, Skiddle has sold an extra £32m (€38m) in tickets in 2021 vs last year, a 442% increase on 2020. Skiddle’s phenomenal growth in 2021 has seen us grow 80% on its best-ever year (2019). Since Feb 2021, the majority of our tickets sold were for nightclub events (45%) with live gigs and festivals a close second (44%).”

The same isn’t true for all UK-based ticketing operations. At The Ticket Factory, Richard Howle notes, “Sales are beginning to return but still aren’t at pre-pandemic levels. In the first six months of this financial year, our overall sales have been down 25% on the same period in 2019.

“However, the on-sale patterns are still out of kilter with the norm, so it is difficult to compare like for like at the moment. Some recent on-sales have been weaker than expected, but I think that this is more likely to reflect the current economic situation rather than any Covid-related concerns.”

AXS director of ticketing Paul Newman contends, “It still needs to be decent content, but to be fair there are many top-level artists going out for the first time in a long time. So sales for the right events are very strong, which bears out the widely held view that we could be in for a bumper couple of years as long as the promoters can find space in the packed venue diaries.”

“It is no surprise that music fans cannot wait to get back out there to live events. Who can blame them?” says Benjamin Leaver, CEO, Event Genius & Festicket. “We’ve seen this play out in successful on-sales for 2022 events, such as Primavera Sound [in Spain], which sold out in just ten days, and for which we were the official payment plan provider.

“We’re also seeing fans spending more on their event trips too, resulting in a huge 172% uplift in average order value”

“We’re also seeing fans spending more on their event trips too, resulting in a huge 172% uplift in average order value for international bookings compared with pre-Covid numbers, with a similar increase also seen in domestic booking.”

He adds, “A large percentage of these are also now choosing alternative payment methods such as payment plans in order for customers to reduce their immediate costs.”

And with Covid never far from the headlines, the increase in demand is also benefitting ancillary businesses.

“We are currently seeing high attachment rates across our partner ticketing companies, venues, and events as people have a pent-up desire to book something to look forward to but at the same time have never been more aware of their risk of being unable to attend,” says TicketPlan’s CEO Ben Bray.

“This has led to higher take-up on our refund protection and insurance products as this enables ticket buyers to book in confidence knowing that if the worst happens and they are unable to attend the event, for instance if they are ill, they can request a refund via extended terms.”

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